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How to Write a Literature Review

How to Write a Literature Review

A literature review is an in-depth analysis of published sources, articles, and literature on a particular subject. This is an assessment of the literature with the future summary, categorization, comparison, and evaluation. You may be wondering: What is the purpose of a literature review? The purpose is simple: a literature review is usually written by students to show their understanding of a particular topic. You are going to show your understanding by:

  • Providing analysis of key points
  • Identifying strengths and weaknesses of the research
  • Identifying gaps in the research
  • Identifying any weak evidence
  • Give a strong background of a research

It’s important to know the requirements of your literature review. It must include the following things:

  • Goal of the literature review
  • Overview of the subject which is under analysis
  • Clear sorting of sources that were taken for research
  • Coherent evaluation of sources and literature

Literature Review Format

The format you use should adhere to the citation style preferred by your instructor. You must seek clarification from your instructor on several other things to establish the desired literature review format.

  • How many sources should you review and what kind sources should they be (published materials, journal articles, websites)?
  • What format should you use to cite the sources?
  • How long should the review be?
  • Should your review consist of a summary, synthesis, or a personal critique?
  • Should your review include subheadings or background information on the sources?

Writing a literature review will require a lot of your effort and attention. Follow the proceeding steps to get started:

Find A Topic For Research

When deciding on a topic, take into account your particular area of study. Consider what interests you, what interests others and how much time you will need to spend on research.

Review The Literature

Before reviewing, it is important to understand the objectives and expected result of the review. The first step you need to take is to understand what materials you will need to research in order to write a review. Commonly, you will be given directions on where to find necessary, trustworthy material that you can rely on when writing your literature review. Secure yourself and use this help. If the booklist were not given, then read only reliable and authoritative sources, there are a variety of academic and scholarly sources that you may find necessary to adopt. In case you are writing an extensive review, you might find it necessary to read published documents, reports, journal articles, government documents, web sources, etc.

Literature Review Outline


  • Describe the topic that you are going to investigate; why it is valuable to the field of study?
  • How well is the topic researched today
  • Identify main themes and methods that will be used for research.


  • Study A: the issue, main point, conclusion
  • Study B: the issue, main point, conclusion
  • Study C: the issue, main point, conclusion


  • What are the strengths?
  • What are the weaknesses?
  • What can be done to research the topic further?

Follow the link to learn more about How To Create A Winning Outline

Write The Review

Start your literature review by writing the thesis statement. This is the most important introductory sentence that should be based on the topic of your research. In one sentence you must show the reader what your review will be about and present the overall outlook on the argument you are going to present. As every piece of writing, a literature review must have an introduction, body, and a conclusion.

TIP: Remember, a literature review is not a place for your strong personal opinions or emotive language.

  • It must be written in a formal style.
  • It should be clear and concise, without any personal language.

Applying Final Touches

Before submitting your literature review make sure to:

  • Determine the goal of the review
  • Organize materials according to issues
  • Identify gaps in the literature
  • Analyze your readings
  • Write an introduction, body, and conclusion
  • Check the punctuations and spelling

Writing Tip From Our Professional Team

Literary analysis is a challenging essay to write. While writing an essay of this kind, it’s important to spend a lot of time drafting and outlining beforehand. When writing about literature, the most vital tip I can give you is to make sure to write your piece as if the reader of your writing has already read the work that you are discussing. Literary analysis is NOT a book report. Do not include plot summary in your essay. While writing, stick to exclusively analysis. Another handy shortcut to writing these essays is to focus on questions such as “What was the author’s intent” and “what effect does it have on the reader”. The article mentions the importance of an argument. An argument is the main claim of your essay. In literary analysis, it’s extremely important that you articulate your claim in your thesis and refer back to your thesis at the end of each paragraph/main point that you make. This will alleviate any confusion that the reader could have about your paper.

Dr. Joshua (PhD), online essay writer from EssayPro

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